Fayette book discussion group 10.15.08

Written by David Green.

Fayette’s Thursdays @ 7 book discussion group will meet at the library Oct. 23 to talk about “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.” by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell.

As an idealistic first-year English teacher at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students.  One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks.

That led to a teaching idea with a remarkable outcome. Using “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and “Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo” as their guides, the class started a life-changing odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.

Students learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists the “Freedom Riders.”

With powerful entries from the students’ own diaries and a narrative text by Gruwell, the book provides an example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination can change lives.

Copies of the book are available at Normal Memorial Library and the discussion is open to everyone.

On Nov. 20, the group will discuss “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.

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